INFORMATION ON THE PACKAGE TRAVEL DIRECTIVE IN CONNECTION WITH THE COVID-19
Travel advice is a national competence. Check if your national authority, e.g. the Ministry of
Foreign Affairs, issued an official travel warning for the region to which you plan to travel.
Travel advice is being updated as the situation changes. The list of EU Member States’ travel
advice is available at: https://ec.europa.eu/info/sites/info/files/travel-advice-list.pdf
According to the Directive on Package Travel and Linked Travel Arrangements, both the
traveller and the tour operator can cancel the trip without penalty in case of “unavoidable and
extraordinary circumstances occurring at the place of destination or its immediate vicinity and
significantly affecting the performance of the package, or which significantly affect the carriage
of passengers to the destination” (Article 12(2) of the Package Travel Directive).
‘Unavoidable and extraordinary circumstances’ means a situation beyond the control of the
party who invokes such a situation and the consequences of which could not have been avoided
even if all reasonable measures had been taken. Significant risks to human health, such as the
outbreak of a serious disease like the COVID-19 at the travel destination or its immediate
vicinity usually qualify as such unavoidable and extraordinary circumstances.
The assessment whether those circumstances significantly affect the performance of the package
must be made on a case-by-case basis.
An official travel warning of national authorities is an important indicator that the package travel
contract can be cancelled due to unavoidable and extraordinary circumstances impacting the
performance of the trip.
Example: If you have booked a package tour to a city or region to which access is restricted or
where public life is subject to significant limitations (e.g. closure of tourist attractions or
museums), this should give you the right to cancel your trip.
Example: If you or an accompanying family member have a medical condition for which
exposure to the COVID-19 is particularly dangerous, you should have the right to cancel your
package travel contract if the risk of contamination with COVID-19 at the travel destination or
its immediate vicinity is declared high by the competent authorities.
Hence, it would have to be assessed whether travellers can reasonably be expected to travel to
the destination(s) in light of the risk to their health and life. A subjective feeling of fear would
not be sufficient.